Ottawa Senators assign Nikita Filatov to Binghamton (AHL)

TORONTO, CANADA - OCTOBER 8: Nikita Filatov #21 of the Ottawa Senators shoots during warmup before NHL action against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre October 8, 2011 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images)

In a surprise move today, the Ottawa Senators assigned winger Nikita Filatov to Binghamton of the AHL. Filatov had started the season with one assist in two games before being a healthy scratch and now being demoted to the AHL.

The move offers a bit of relief for the logjam at forward, reducing the team's roster to 22 healthy bodies (although there are still two healthy scratches at forward for tonight's game against the Colorado Avalanche). Still, it's a surprise given Filatov's impressive pre-season and the appearance of a strong work ethic in games. It remains to be seen whether or not he will report to Binghamton, but I assume he would.

In trying to rationalize the decision, my only thinking is that it's a short-term move intended to get Filatov playing games, and to save a little bit of money in the process (Filatov's NHL salary is more than ten times his AHL salary). It could also be an attempt to show Filatov he's still got work to do, and to give the winless Binghamton Senators a bit more firepower up front.

Personally, I have my doubts about the length of the demotion. I would suspect that, unless something changes dramatically in his play, Mika Zibanejad will be returned to Sweden to develop for another year, which would open up a top-six roster spot on the NHL squad. Even if Zibanejad sticks in Ottawa, I assume Filatov would be at or near the top of the recall list in the event injuries take players out of the lineup.

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